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Friends for Lunch- Friday, September 24

Join us on Friday, September 24 for Friends for Lunch, which is designed for those interested in learning more about Cancer Services. It includes a light lunch, tour, and a brief question and answer session. We value your time, so the program will last only one hour. Please call or email Amber for reservations if you are interested. (260) 484-9560, arecker@cancer-services.org.

If you can’t make it this month, don’t worry. We host Friends for Lunch the 4th Friday of every month.

Save the Date- Upcoming Fundraisers

Save the Date for the following fundraisers to benefit Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana.

Friday, October 15- 3rd Annual Bust A Move Auction and Fundraiser

The Ballroom at the Freemason’s Hall
Doors open at 6 PM, Auction Begins at 7:30 PM
Tickets $10, available at Cancer Services
www.fwderbygirls.com/bustamove

Saturday, October 16- Beat BC 5K
Central Noble High School
Registration 7:30-8 AM
Fun Run 8:15 AM
Race Begins 8:30 AM
www.beatbc.org

A Delicate Dance

by Gail Hamm, Program Director

There is a certain tension between caregivers and patients- a delicate dance, if you will. Each tries to protect the other. And even if communication was good before the need for caregiving, there may still be times of conflict and hurt feelings. Important things may not be said because it is difficult to talk about the “elephant in the living room.” At other times, it is difficult to understand each other’s perspective.

I have watched this dance play out in many ways. From the perspective of the cancer survivor (a person is a survivor from the day of diagnosis, by the way)… I have heard this person ask, “How do I get my family to accept the new me?” Sometimes the “new me” looks, acts, sounds, ambulates, or eats differently from the “me” before diagnosis and treatment. The “new me” is who he is now, and cannot go back. There is no choice. The survivor is making accommodations to survive and thrive in his new way of living. It takes a lot of time and perseverance to assume the new mantle of self, find meaning from the experience, and survive day-to-day. In addition, he may also be short- tempered and frustrated, and just plain not feeling well.

It can be difficult for the caregiver to accept the “new me,” precisely because there is a “new me.” Out of love, the caregiver offers food and advice. And when the survivor refuses or only eats a little, the caregiver can become extremely frustrated. There may also be the unspoken fear that, “If I don’t feed him, he will die…. it’s my responsibility to nurture my husband and keep him alive.” There is a certain feeling of impotency and helplessness in not being able to protect and save our loved ones.

Caregivers, out of their love for the survivors, are struggling to provide assistance, but what they are offering may be rebuffed…not out of diminished love or caring, but because the survivor wants to do it in his or her own way. To the caregiver it feels like rejection. To the person being cared for, it feels like smothering. In either case, both are trying their best to maintain relationships while dealing with a new lifestyle for which no one asked nor planned.

If you are in this situation, I highly recommend the support group venue as a way to share triumphs and dilemmas. Others have dealt with what you may be experiencing. In coming to a support group and sharing, caregivers and survivors are bringing problems out into the open and finding solutions. Listening to others provides new perspectives and renewed energy for the caregiver/patient dance. Cancer Services offers a variety of support groups. Check out the possibilities at cancer-services.org or call 260-484-9560 or toll free 866-484-9560.

Tie1On4 Prostate Cancer Community Outreach

Linda Bewley, our outreach coordinator, along with volunteers Susan Swardenski and Bill Seidel, have been busy as we ramp up for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Last week they traveled throughout Northeast Indiana to put up blue ties and banners to raise awareness in our community. We’d like to thank all of the business, healthcare facilities, and government offices that are helping us with this effort by allowing us to put up our ties:

Strickler Cancer Center at Adams Memorial Hospital in Decatur, Bluffton Regional Medical Center in Bluffton, Bluffton Regional Cancer Center in Bluffton, Pill Box Pharmacy in Warsaw, Parkview LaGrange in LaGrange, Dekalb Memorial Hospital in Auburn, Cameron Memorial Community Hospital Regional Cancer Center in Angola, Parkview Whitley in Columbia City, Parkview Huntington, St. Rd. 6 on the Hayden Rental property, NEIU Prostate Cancer Center in Fort Wayne, Allen County Courthouse Lawn, The Community Center, and The Towne House Retirement Community.

Hope Alive…

by Nimal Gernando, cancer survivor and Cancer Services client

One beautiful day in June 2008, I was attending a conference in Indianapolis and developed a slight and sudden pain in my lower abdomen. I tried to shrug it off, but it didn’t go away and actually got worse. I had a bad feeling about it, so I decided to head home. I called my wife on the way, and she suggested that I call the doctor. The doctor saw me right away, but he couldn’t find anything and suggested that I get a CAT scan. The scan showed a tumor blocking my colon, so I had a colonoscopy, which confirmed the tumor and I underwent surgery to remove it immediately. That was the beginning of a new life for me and one that has been humbling and challenging.

After my diagnosis, I found Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana, which has been a huge source of support and encouragement to me and my family. My Client Advocate, Brandon, has been there at every turn and has never hesitated to provide the information that I need. I have also been enjoying the massages provided through its new program, Caring Touch. The experience is so relaxing and comforting. I am thankful to Cancer Services for the support and services provided on my journey.

My life goes on and I am enjoying it to the fullest. I have learned to look on the bright side and have been counting my blessings. I have two boys: Nathan (8) and Nelig (7). My wife, Shanthinie, has been strong and is taking care of me and the two boys with much courage and perseverance. She is scared, yet she has been there to support me and take care of the family throughout this journey. We do not have family in the area, so she has found strength in the community, especially from our church family, which has rallied around us and offered encouragement and support. Life is a struggle but I am keeping my hope alive.

Re-Energize, a Program of Light Exercise

Join us for Re-energize, a fitness class specifically designed for individuals currently in treatment or post-treatment. Studies have shown that exercise improves quality of life and eases some cancer-related fatigue. The goal is not for participants to gain muscle or to lose weight, but rather to build a stronger, healthier mind and body. Individuals with any level of exercise experience are welcome and will find that this program is not an intense workout but a time to join others and be physically active. Participants are able to stop if they feel fatigued and resume when they are ready. Each session will end in a cool down and finish with relaxing breathing techniques. Family members are welcome!
Classes will be taught by Zac Zimmerman of Catalyst Fitness and will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-7 PM, September through November. Call (260) 484-9560 for more information.

The Persistence of a Weed

by Dianne May, CEO

The church’s sign said, “Lord, please give me the persistence of a weed.”

Wow, what would it be like to be a weed? To push yourself through an impossibly hard obstacle and stretch your arms to the sun. To bake in burning heat day after day and then glory in a rain shower. To endure repeated cuts and still come back strong.

What would it be like to be a weed? To be as pure and delicate as Queen Anne’s Lace, as blue as cornflowers, and as bright as dandelions.

I’ve decided that weeds are under-valued. I think they have something to teach us. Weeds have adapted over time to survive in places and situations that no one thought would be possible. Cancer can feel like that. Insurmountable, impossible to defeat and yet it happens. People triumph over the disease, sometimes by living long and sometimes by living well. Lord, give me the persistence of a weed.

Tie1On4 Prostate Cancer at Parkview Field

On Friday, August 13, several members of the Us TOO support group joined Parkview at Parkview Field for free PSA screenings. The Us TOO groups volunteered to help with registration and in turn were able to promote our Prostate Cancer Awareness intiatives.

This is the afternoon registration team. The tee shirts with blue ties are part of Cancer Services’ annual prostate cancer awareness and educational events called “Tie1on 4Prostate Cancer.” Pictured, from left to right: Front row: Jim Stein, Bob Vodde, Laine Seidel and back row: Fred Barnes, Larry Kumfer, Mel Smith, Bill Seidel, Paul Blanks

Registrars at work: Bob Vodde and Laine Seidel

The “Outdoor Crew,” which is particularly meaningful as temperatures were in the low 90s and heat indexes above 100. The entrance to the stadium is several hundred yards from the testing site, and the route between the two was not intuitive. These men guided people from the stadium entrance to the test site, and also provided wheel chair service to those who needed it. From left to right, the volunteers are Dan Rhodes and Jon Colbert.

Jon Colbert helps a gentleman who came to take advantage of the free PSA.

For more information about Cancer Services Tie1On4 Prostate Cancer activities, visit cancer-services.org.

A Reflection on Tribute Dinner 2009

by Heather Currie, 2009 Event Attendee

My mother passed away from colon cancer in January 2009, and my father invited family and friends to share a table at Cancer Services Tribute Dinner 2009 to celebrate her life. The tribute gift was a picture frame, so we searched through our cameras and in our photo albums for a suitable picture of my mother. Going through the pictures wasn’t easy, partly because it had been less than a year since she passed, making it hard to see so many photos of good times, knowing that there would be no new additions to our collections. And partly it was hard because every individual, my mother included, has so many facets that no single photo captures them completely. We found photos of her at weddings, holidays, and dressed up for previous Cancer Services dinners where her own parents had been honored for their battles with cancer. We eventually chose a candid photo of her from our last family vacation in 2007 because it showed her in her element – relaxing in a National Park, enjoying the peacefulness of sunshine, trees and family close at hand. It showed her not just living with cancer, but thriving with it. The picture and frame now sit on the piano where my mother often played. It is joined by bookends and a vase – three handsome tributes, from Cancer Services dinners, to amazing members of our family.
My mother’s battle with cancer is a story of living, surviving, and thriving, as many of them are. Despite all that she lost through cancer, she survived so much of it during her 11-year battle. It was her determination to thrive that has left an indelible mark on us and continues to inspire those who knew her. We survive her, but those who loved her have felt the loss deeply, but it won’t stop us from thriving. At the Cancer Services dinner, we were surrounded by people who knew well what it means to live, survive and thrive. Despite all of the loss, there was not a feeling of sadness to the event. There were a few tears (living, surviving and thriving isn’t easy, after all); the event, however, was a happy occasion, with much to celebrate. Those who have survived their battles with cancer, and those of us who have survived family members lost to cancer, have much to be optimistic about. The dinner gave us an environment in which to not only honor those who fight cancer, but to thrive because of them.

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